team canada duchene

When the buzzer goes at the end of Canada’s game versus Austria today, play time is going to be over. Their next round-robin game is against a talented Finnish team with great goaltending, and every game after that is win-or-go-home. They’d prefer not to do the latter, I’m told.

So when things get real on Sunday, you really want your best lines assembled and staying together, you want your powerplay units to be working together so they get in a groove, and you want your best players on the ice as much as possible.

Today, these things are not the case.

Teams in this tournament have been given almost zero time to self-evaluate, and that makes a coach’s job hard. As much as you’d like to think that you can just plunk your three best players together and make a great line, that’s not always the case (you know teams understand this, because Crosby’s on a line with Kunitz and Carter). Which is why they need to use the game against Austria, which they have about a 97% chance of winning, as a test practice of sorts.

Here’s what’s up with the roster:

It’s great to see them give everyone a look, but it’s important that they don’t just let these guys put sweaters on and leave them on the bench. This isn’t house hockey (everybody gets to say they helped!) – you have to actually find out if they’re going to be tools you can use.

Basically, what I’m saying is this: if you have any lines in your head that aren’t changing, with players on them that aren’t coming out of the lineup, barely use them today. Explain to them what you’re doing so they’re okay with it, but find out if Martin St. Louis can play with Sidney Crosby or not. Find out if Jamie Benn deserves more minutes. See if Matt Duchene looks like the game breaker he can be in the NHL. Give the majority of minutes to players you won’t down the road, rest your stars, and try some different trios. It’s all valuable information to provide yourself with.

(The only thing I wouldn’t mess with today are the powerplay units. They looked rough in game one, and the more reps those guys can get together the better.)

During even strength shifts, you’ve been afforded the luxury of two games for evaluation that not all teams were so fortunate to have. You’d be silly not to take advantage of that schedule to make sure you’re giving the right guys the minutes when the tournament is on the line.

Comments (5)

  1. Didn’t sharp play on the second unit? I imagine that will be PK’s spot.

  2. Fortunate for Canada to have both the easiest group and the best schedule.

  3. Looks like they’re getting more creative with the lines in the 3rd — would love to see that Crosby-St. Louis-Duchene combo get a longer look. I thought Kunitz and Carter were awful in the first game, and Perry hasn’t looked good yet either.

  4. I’m posting after the game and in response to your 10 thoughts story, first of all I thought duschene looked good out there with perry and getz,his speed helped on the weber goal and he will be an important part of this team as the tourney progresses, and they won’t and shouldn’t break up the bergeron-tavares and benn line, they will play against the other teams worse players as a 4th line and will continue to excel

  5. Bouwmeester has been the biggest liability, and smallest contributor.

    He’s big and lanky with reach, but he’s slower and creating problems for teammates with bad passes. He hasn’t been horrible, but there’s a small sample where everyone else have done more and done it better.

    Vlasic has been quiet. Hamhuis and Subban have been good in many ways.
    Weber and Doughty have been the biggest contributors. Pietrangelo has been good moving the puck.

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